Social Science Computer Review

Volume 26, No. 1

Spring 2008


Table of Contents


Symposium on Privacy. Trust and Identity Issues for Ambient Intelligence and Ubiquitous Computing


Privacy, trust and identity issues for ubiquitous computing / Linda Little / pp. 3-5.

Ubiquitous Computing: Trust issues for a ‘healthy’ society / Elizabeth Sillence & Pam Briggs / pp. pp. 6-12.

        Abstract: The notion of Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp) has important implications for healthcare. Ubicomp scenarios involving the rapid communication of information between interested parties assume that health consumers will be willing to place their trust in agents rather than physicians, but are these assumptions reasonable? This paper discusses what is known about the role of trust in healthcare and ways in which the trust relationship has changed with the impact of new technologies. Differences between the current, predominantly web based environment and that of Ubicomp are highlighted in relation to healthcare. A key point to note is the move away from consumers making their own trust judgements towards a scenario in which these decisions become the domain of intelligent agents.

        Keywords: trust, health, ubiquitous computing, internet, scenarios

An Organizational View of Pervasive Computing: Policy Implications for Information Exchange / John Karat & Clare-Marie Karat / pp. 13-19.

        Abstract: In this paper we talk about the importance of advancing usable policy management as a contribution to privacy and appropriate information use by organizations. Currently organizations which hold sensitive information do not have a unified way of defining or implementing privacy or security access control policies that encompass data collected and used by both Web and legacy applications across different server platforms. This makes it difficult for them to put in place proper management and control of sensitive information or to verify that required or intended regulations for the use of information are met by the organization. Examinations of privacy policy implementations within organizations have not changed the picture much in the past 15 years, with the findings of Smith (1993) largely consistent with our own more recent studies (Karat et al., 2005). While there has been considerable attention to the development and posting of privacy policies on websites (e.g., Jensen and Potts, 2004), almost all of these policies are vague and lack connections to technology that might actually implement them. Based on our findings from working with organizations, we believe that helping to close the gap between the high level policies organizations strive to adhere to and the low level actions carried out within their IT systems is a critical topic for research and development.

        Keywords: privacy policies, trust, organizations, SPARCLE

Investigating privacy attitudes and behavior in relation to personalization / Evelien van de Garde - Perik, Panos Markopoulos, Boris de Ruyter, Berry Eggen, Wijnand IJsselsteijn / pp. 20-43.

        Abstract: This paper presents an experimental study of privacy-related attitudes and behaviors regarding a music recommender service based on two types of user modeling: personality traits versus musical preferences. Contrary to prior expectations and the attitudes reported by participants, personality traits were frequently disclosed to the system and even to other users, which indicates that embedded modeling of user personality does not represent an acceptance barrier. Discrepancies between privacy attitudes and behaviors has been reported before in the context of e-commerce applications, but the corresponding studies could not exclude several conflicting hypotheses, such as participants expressing attitudes outside the context of specific privacy dilemmas, knowledge of participation in research and contact with researchers, which may have mitigated perceived privacy risks. It can be argued that these are fundamental problems in empirical investigations into privacy which apply to most published works relating to privacy and user modeling. Measures to control these factors in the current study are discussed and methodological suggestions for future research are presented.

        Keywords: Privacy, personalization, music recommender, user profile

E-voting in an ubicomp world: Trust, privacy and social implications / Linda Little, Tim Storer, Pam Briggs & Ishbel Duncan / pp. 44-59.

        Abstract: The advances made in technology have unchained the user from the desktop into interactions where access is anywhere, anytime. In addition, the introduction of ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) will see further changes in how we interact with technology and also socially. Ubicomp evokes a near future in which humans will be surrounded by 'always-on', unobtrusive, interconnected intelligent objects where information is exchanged seamlessly. This seamless exchange of information has vast social implications, in particular the protection and management of personal information. This research project investigates the concepts of trust and privacy issues specifically related to the exchange of e-voting information when using a ubicomp type system.

        Keywords: Ubiquitous computing, e-voting, privacy, trust, usability

Privacy in the Age of Transparency: The New Vulnerability of the Individual / Maya Gadzheva / pp. 60-74.

        Abstract: In an ambient intelligent (AmI) environment with its unlimited collection of data it will be difficult (if not impossible) for users to maintain control over data generation, exchange, transfer and use, and to achieve unobservability and anonymity. Obtaining consent might not be feasible for the constant need for collection and exchange of incredible amount of data. In most cases individuals are not aware that profiling is done, how it works, what profiles are being compiled and what decisions may result from these profiles. Due to the overflow of information users cannot exercise their right to correct and/or erase, rectify or amend their data. In the future, computing capabilities will be embedded in potentially every object or device and consumers cannot maintain knowledge of all data controllers that have some of their data, let alone hold them accountable for non-compliance with the fair information principles. The present-day privacy legislation has several weaknesses if confronted with the AmI environment which could lead to the need for new principles on which to base new regulations, to take account of the changed context.

        Keywords: ambient intelligence, privacy, surveillance, transparency, profiling

Between extreme rejection and cautious acceptance – consumers' reactions to RFID-based information services in retail /   Matthias Rothensee & Sarah Spiekermann / pp. 75-86.

        Abstract: RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is one of the most important technologies supporting the development of ambient intelligence. It is currently being introduced in supply chain management, but is planned to be broadened in application to individual products, enabling myriad RFID-based services on retailers' shop floors and in the after-sales domain. However, embedding chips in every-day products has stirred a considerable debate about people's privacy. So far it is unclear what the attitudes of people towards privacy and its protection in ambient intelligence are. In the same way it is unclear whether these attitudes will impact the reputation of the retailer and acceptance of RFID-based information services. This paper presents two empirical studies with 642 participants who saw an introductory film about RFID and subsequently evaluated the technology, the services it enables and potential privacy protection mechanisms. The results show that people are moderately privacy aware and that their privacy awareness is negatively related to their estimated acceptance of the service. Furthermore, a group of "extreme rejecters" is identified, which hold highly negative attitudes towards RFID and significantly bias group means. The characteristics of this group are explored and technical as well as organizational privacy protection measures are evaluated.

        Keywords: RFID, ambient intelligence, retail, reputation, privacy enhancing technology

Enhancing privacy in public spaces through crossmodal displays / Han Cao, Patrick Olivier & Daniel Jackson / pp. 87 - 102,

        Abstract: We introduce the notion of a crossmodal display as a proposal for enhancing the privacy of public information displays. The selection of appropriate display technology and interaction techniques relies upon an understanding of the public-private nature of information and the spaces from which it is accessed. The crossmodal display framework supports multiple users simultaneously accessing information that contains both public and personal elements. Crossmodal displays are multi-user interfaces that facilitate the efficient public access of personalized information, while maintaining the anonymity of each user in physical public spaces. Based on psychological theories of crossmodal attention which characterize human capabilities for matching information received through different modalities, the framework takes advantage of both public displays and mobile devices through the use of peripheral cues, and allows information personalization in public space. Two example systems are presented, in the first individuals access situated ambient displays of directions to destinations, and in the second a structured combination of cues is used to provide access to information board displays. The configuration and implications for privacy of both systems is introduced and analyzed within the wider context of access to public information displays in pervasive computing.

        Keywords: Privacy, trust, pervasive computing, public displays, crossmodal displays

Understanding the influence of the users’ context in AmI / Anxo Cereijo Roibás / pp. 103 - 188.

        Abstract: This paper explores the use of ethnographies to understand the contextual influence on the user experience of ambient intelligent (AmI) systems in public environments. To do this, consolidated and experimental field studies to explore how users interact in real contexts with pervasive systems are discussed. The scope is to analyze, in a holistic way, how the system integrates into the users' physical and social environment and can be responsive to their emotions and feelings. These studies, as part of a Participatory Design approach can potentially contribute to enhance the reliability and relevance of the results.

        Keywords: Ambient deployments, pervasive interactive systems, user experience, trust, security, privacy, context awareness, intelligent objects.


Book Reviews


Government Policy and Program Impacts on Technology Development,. Transfer and Commercialization, by P. Kimball, William S. Piper, and Walter W. Wymer, eds. / Reviewed by Kames Piecowye


Information Economy Report 2006: The Development Perspective, by Peter Frohler, Coordinator, UNCTAD / Reviewed by J. Ramon Gil-Garcia


Online Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, by Shirley Bach, Philip Haynes, and Jennifer Lewis-Smith / Reviewed by Teresa Sancho


E-Governance in European and South African Cities. The Cases of Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Johannesburg, Manchester, Tampere, The Hague and Venice: by Leo van den Berg, Andre van der Meer, Willem van Winden & Paulus Woets /  Reviewed by Carlos Nunes Silva


Cybercartography: Theory and Practice, by D. R. Fraser Taylor / Reviewed by T. R. Carr